Bookshelf Tour! (Mostly Unread Books)

What’s up world!
Today, I’m going to be giving you a snippet of what my bookshelves look like!

First up, this is the overview of my bookshelves ↓

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I used to organize my bookshelves by genres, but I was kind of stressed out by how rapidly the shelf on which I put my romance books had been filling up. With three more women’s novels (most likely even more) coming my way, I didn’t know what to do.

Then, watching a BookTuber’s Bookshelf Tour video gave me the inspiration for organizing my bookshelves; I decided to squeeze all the books that I read into the bookshelf on the left and the unread books into the one on the right. Yup, it goes to show how many books I still have that I need to read…

I did my best to sort my unread books by genres, but to be honest with you, I wasn’t particularly happy with how it turned out right after reorganizing my bookshelves.
In particular, I wasn’t at all happy with the color scheme of my books; it kind of looked a bit disorganized despite the fact they WERE in fact sorted by genres to some extent 😦
That said, I’m glad that I rearranged my bookshelves because it actually created some more space in my shelves!

All right, enough about the overview, let’s take a closer look at the individual shelves and we’re going to start from the top.

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I’m not going much into these books here but I’ll give you the titles instead.

From left to right:

  • Lab Girl by Hope Johren
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
  • Tenth of December by George Saunders
  • No Safe House by Linwood Barclay
  • The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek
  • The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • One Day by David Nicholls

 

On the next shelf, we have:

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  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Oops, some books are upside-down…)
  • Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  • The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Pact by Jodi Picoult
  • Watermelon by Marian Keyes
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
  • Luck, Love and Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert
  • All the Good Parts by  Loretta Nyhan 
  • Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
  • The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
  • Always by Sarah Jio

 

Now, let’s move down to my Classic section:

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Actually, there are WAY TOO MANY to enumerate and most of them are from my Out-of-Control-Book Haul and Crazy Classic Book Haul, so if you’re interested, please check them out, too 😀

The books on this shelf that ARE NOT from those hauls are:

  • Most Secret by Nevil Shute
  • The Public Image by Muriel Spark

The funny thing is that I myself think I did a pretty good job in fitting everything in this shelf, but two of my Bookish friends are actually not at all happy with this layout; they favor how my Classic section used to look like (You can see my Instagram photo here) – they are saddened by my pretty Penguin English Library editions being pushed back and not showing lol

 

All right, we’re almost there! On the bottom shelf we have:

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  • The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  • Windwitch by Susan Dennard
  • Gemina by  Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
  • Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo 

That is it!!
Phew, I didn’t even know how many books I’ve actually got myself. I probably should have stuck with buying paperbacks rather than hardcovers; my tiny bookshelves have been filling up at a much faster pace than I had anticipated!
I think I’ll need to learn to read on my Kindle too…

Anyways, thanks for sticking around, hope you all have a great reading week! 😄

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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I wasn’t quite sure if this book was really going to live up to my expectation until I reached the very end. Although it did move me to some extent, the tidal wave of emotions that I had been expecting didn’t arrive;

Until I reached the chapter, The End of the World (Part Ⅱ)  to be more specific.

Set in the years 1939 – 1943, Nazi Germany, The Book Thief weaves a story of a German girl, Liesel, and her encounters with the inhabitants on her street.
She loses her brother on their way to their new foster parents’ home and she commits her very first thievery after her brother’s burial ceremony.

She picks up a book lodged in the snow – The beginning of Liesel’s book thievery.

To me, this book felt like a collage of the lives of inhabitants of Himmel Street rather than a story.
There is, indeed, a solid story line running underneath the entire book, but I think the vast majority of the book is about Liesel and the people whom she gets to know or comes to love.
There is Rudy, there is Papa, most importantly, there is Max. A Jew who left a big impact on Liesel and with whom Liesel forms a very strong friendship.
Stories with individual characters are woven amazingly in detail and are entertaining, but the real culmination of the tension (at least for me) arrives at the remaining 20 pages mark. This is where all the stories come to life. This is where this book hit me in the feels and made me all welled-up.

I particularly loved the friendship between Liesel and Max. They respectively become indispensable to each other. With Max being a Jew, Papa and Mama know what it means to hide Max from the pursuit of Nazi, what consequences await them, but they risk everything to protect Max and to keep a secret that Papa had made to Max’s father.
Such details behind each character serve very well to make this book emotionally engaging and captivating.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous; I don’t know how to articulate what it feels like.
It’s stunningly beautiful, lyrical and poetic. More than anything, it’s generally calm and quiet, yet very strong.

What struck me interesting about this book is that the story is narrated by Death himself and I really liked his voice. His narration is dignified, yet I sensed the humor in his voice. He is very calm, collected and observant, too. Although this story is told through the eyes of Death and sets in Nazi Germany,  it didn’t feel morbid and depressing so much. Not that I’m saying that it’s all uplifting, which is definitely not the case, but it is NOT all bleak and gloom. Through Death’s very observant detailed narration, we can get a glipmse of happiness (albeit occasionally) in Liesel’s life.
He says ‘Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me,’ but I felt he is actually nice. I could even feel some warmth in his voice.

The main characters are all lovable and in particular, the bond between Papa and Liesel literally warmed the cockles of my heart. Which is all the more reason why the aforementioned scene broke me; I know it’s inevitable, yet it still hurts.

This book is rather long with 538 page count and this is not a fast-paced quick read.
This is one of those books that should be savored and devoured by taking as long as one needs to let the story sink in.
This is a story of life, friendship and keeping promise. It is simply stunningly beautiful and maginificent.
Even if you feel it a bit dull with not so much going on, the jolt does come in the end.
This book does need patience. I’m so glad that I read it. I will definitely reread it.

The Quaker Café by Brenda Bevan Remmes

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  • Synopsis (Excerpt from Goodreads)

When Liz Hoole, a free-spirited liberal from the Midwest, marries into a conservative Quaker family, she knows that raising children in compliance with Quaker values will be challenging. Twenty-five years later, she still feels like she’s falling short of expectations. Fortunately, her faith and her friends in the small, rural North Carolina town of Cedar Branch keep her strong.

After her best friend’s politically powerful father dies, Liz stumbles upon secrets from the past that threaten to unravel the current harmony in Cedar Branch, a town with a history of racial tension. As she researches more and eavesdrops on gossip at the Quaker Café, where everyone meets each morning, Liz soon discovers the truth about an injustice that she cannot reveal to anyone—not even her husband.

Surrounded by a cast of richly drawn Southern characters, Liz learns that even good people can make bad choices. Now, she must decide whether she has the strength to bring a past wrong to light, despite the consequences.


I am so sorry to say this, but this book kind of fell flat for me.
The synopsis sounds interesting and it actually taps into some very important issues that have been deeply entrenched in our society, this book has got a lot more than meets the eye, but overall, it failed to grab me emotionally.

Like I mentioned earlier, the subject matters that are told in this story are very important; racial issues, religious segregation and small conflicts and discordance that sprang from differences in perspectives between two communities or traditions.

Throughout the book, such issues are well-incorporated in the main/side stories and reminded me of the fact that we’re still living in a very segregated world and we have hardly made any progress in racial integration; there are still a lot of people out there who are feeling neglected or downtrodden.  This book also conveys a very important message; truth has got its own price. What’s in the past should stay in the past sometimes and be left undisturbed.

The whole Isaac Perry incident and the character dynamics surrounding this event were particularly gripping; this story line was absolutely a page-turner. It kept me engaged.

However, I’ve also got a feeling that the writing is weak at times; it wasn’t that solid nor consistent.
As I mentioned earlier, some parts are really emotionally engaging and captivating; the main plot is solid and well-crafted. The emotional tension between the characters was especially very strong and beautifully depicted. The ripple effect stems from the unearthing of the well-kept secret was pretty enthralling too. It struck a chord with me and I quite enjoyed it. However, some parts – particularly what should have been the most crucial parts felt rather slippery and flat for me.
Especially the ending, the church scene felt rather hastily wrapped-up and anticlimactic. I was really underwhelmed and disappointed by that to be honest.

I might have felt even more so because I actually enjoyed this book up until that point.
I did generally enjoy the story of a conservative, close-knit society with the intricate character dynamics. That said, however, I was rather disappointed by the author kind of dropping the ball at the most crucial moments in the story.
Take the aforementioned Church scene for instance, there are a lot of CAPS in the dialogues and I assume the author tried to stress the significance of each remark, to better get the message across. However, it had an adverse effect on me; I found myself rapidly losing interest and focus, looking at the whole thing in a very critical light. The impact from such blunders was actually huge; all the good feels and thoughts that I’d had were quickly lost on me and it resulted in turning my overall impression toward this book upside-down. I even think this book would have been a lot more engaging and fun to read if the author had been able to maintain the sense of suspense and tension in her writing.

The characters didn’t leave much big of an impact on me either; I couldn’t relate to any of the characters as strongly as I would have liked. While I find it really nice to bond with friends as strongly as Liz, Maggie and Billie do, most of the things about this book felt rather plain and a bit dull to me sadly to say.

That’s my overall thoughts and feels on this book.
Don’t get me wrong; I did enjoy the story in general, but the ending which fizzled out made me do a 180 on this book.
That said, some readers may enjoy this book. It could have been something with me which made me stop short of enjoying it entirely.

I gave this book 3 stars.

30 Subscribers! Thank You!!

Thank you

Big shout-out to all my readers who have visited/given me likes and comments –

I’ve just hit 30 subscribers today!  

OMG, this is just incredible! I still can’t believe this is happening to me!
I just wanted to express my sincere, heartfelt thanks to all those who have subscribed to my book blog. I cannot thank you enough!

I launched this book blog on August 25th, 2016. I’ve been blogging here almost 9 months now.
Would I ever have imagined that I would get as many as 30 subscribers when I started off? Seriously, NEVER. Never have I imagined that this would be happening. I honestly can’t believe it.

Through this book blog and social media such as Goodreads and Twitter, I’ve made friends with so many great readers around the world – I am truly glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and started blogging.
I must admit it has always been a challenge for me, a non-native, to write up posts entirely in English and I assume it always will be. I also know too well that my posts might have been all disorienting at times and left a lot to be desired. So, I am literally overwhelmed by the fact that I’ve now got as many as 30 of you putting up with my crappy English and following my blog. It is simply amazing and I am truly blessed.

Before I go, let me say that your likes and comments have always been a great source of encouragement for me to keep going. I am now motivated to read and write posts MORE THAN EVER.

I will definitely keep trying to make this blog grow and more entertaining, so keep your eyes peeled!

Once again, thank you so so much, and I’ll talk to you again soon! 😀

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

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‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101 . . .

Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.


※ The following contains some spoilers.

First and foremost, it was so much fun reading this book; it was a great reading experience and I really enjoyed it. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

The draw and gravity that this book possesses were so strong; this is such an immersive read that I just couldn’t put it down once I picked it up last Friday intending only for a brief skimming.

At first, I was a bit nervous if I’d get to wrap my mind around this dystopian novel. As is the case with reading fantasy books which has got a lot of world settings/ world building , I was not quite sure if I was ready to tackle this dystopian world and policies and everything.
However, it ended up a needless fear; the ideology of the world was easy enough to follow and well spelled out. The more I got to knew about the world, the more captivated I was.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous and magnificent. It was simply enchanting. But I would say what really grabbed me was the ideology of The Party and what coercion and duress – in particular, ‘fear’ – can do to you. I also found it an interesting idea to continuously wage a war to use up the surplus generated from production so as not to raise the general standard of living. So long as the general population, particularly the mass categorized as ‘the proles’ which accounts for 85% of the total population, are left in constant poverty, they wouldn’t conceive any intellectual or independent idea which conflicts The Party’s ideology and policies.
It also struck me that the proles, a class where I’d be most likely to belong to if I were to put in this world, are treated as though they were animals or some kind of mindless disposable machines or expendables. They’re regarded as just a mere labor force, not worthy of education. This aspect disturbed me quite a bit.

The world in which Winston lives is simply unimaginable and bleak; people are put under a constant surveillance with telescreens which can also pick up even the smallest, subtlest hints/noise such as palpitations and neurotic eye movements in the flicker of a moment. They literally and invariably need to watch their deeds and words even in their sleep. History, past, even facts are subject to constant modifications and amendments to make it look like The Party has, and always will be correct and the government itself is in fact in charge of the tasks.
People are also hand-fed all the information that they need to know by the government and nothing else is allowed to enter one’s mind. Once discovered, one’s future is doomed – one will be on the road to vaporization and death at the exact moment one has committed the first-degree crime.

Now, I am not a kind of reader to superimpose or reflect my own world onto this dystopian world which is rigidly regimented with an ironclad system, but I still find it rather disturbing.  In particular, the fear what Winston experienced in Room 101 was just beyond imagination; the description of it literally blew me out of the water. It was spectacularly described and was hard-hitting – you definitely should read it. It was simply fantastic. 

Compared to ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ which I read two months ago and is another highly-acclaimed dystopian novel, I personally think this 1984 hit home for me way closer because of the element of ‘fear’ being described more in detail. It is really descriptive and feels realistic; it almost made me believe something like this could be actually happening in this world I’m living in. I absolutely loved it.

The ending, the very last sentence left me in awe, in a weird sense. I was a bit overwhelmed by the power of brainwash and what the ruling organizations/ powers can do to you. My gosh, I wouldn’t want to go through that!!

This is an amazing, captivating read although there are scenes that I felt a bit redundant somewhere in the latter half.
None the less, this is THE BOOK all readers should pick up at least once in a lifetime.
I will definitely come back to this book. I am certain of it.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

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Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.


I picked up this book mistakenly assuming this is a YA; on Day 2 of my private Readathon and have got a lot of socialization going on in the next 3 days, I wanted to read something I’d get to finish in one day.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I was wrong about this book; this book turned out to be much more complex than I had originally anticipated dealing with a lot of important issues that have been deeply-entrenched in our society; racism, gender identity, and discrimination/ prejudice.

First and foremost, I found it simply incredible this book being the author’s debut novel; the pacing is just right and the writing is gorgeous. Nothing seemed out of place.
The issues (the slight one, no, there are two actually ) that I had was lack of characterization. I wanted a bit more in-depth characterization and character developments.
Also, I was a bit comfused with the intertwined timelines. I’m not sure if you call it ‘three-dimensional,’ but the timeline where the story is told keeps jumping back and forth; in one paragraph timeline centered on the present, but in the next paragraph it goes back in late 1970’s. It keeps going on and on, so it took some getting used to and was a bit hard to keep track of the timeline I was in. I needed to stay focused.

None the less, it’s still a laudable and an amazing read. Such a page-turner. It was a sheer joy to read this book.

Story-wise, it’s really complex. It’s got a thriller element where readers and the characters try to piece together the fragments of clues and get behind the death of Lydia.
But I think the real focus lies on the mix-raced broken family – James of Chinese decent and Marilyn being American. Both of them drag a dark past of ‘not fitting in’ or ‘standing out in a wrong way,’ and have been subject to prejudice and discrimination.

Now, what I find most poignant and heart-breaking is that both of them, of all people,  who HAVE experienced the prejudice against themselves, impose their own dream on their children – in particular, on their favorite second child, Lydia.
James is all anxious about her having a lot of friends and blending in while Marilyn superimposes herself over Lydia and kind of forces her to pursue her dream on her behalf, which Marilyn had to give up on the face of reality.
To me, personally, Marilyn crossed the line. Her pushiness seems like an obsession; I felt sick in the stomach reading how persistently and forcibly Marilyn imposes her own dream on Lydia while completely neglecting her other kids – Nath and Hannah.
Lydia has become the center of her world and she shoves other kids away.

The writing is absolutely stunning. It beautifully depicts how this vulnerable family barely hangs on a balance. They are literally on edge so even one tiny push can tip the family over and make it collapse. On top of all that, the real issue of this family is rooted deeply in the very parents. What they had gone through in their youth makes what they are and sows the seeds of the problems.
The depiction of slow-death demise of the family was simply captivating.

Lydia’s inner struggles are also well-narrated and I couldn’t read it without feeling a lump in my throat. The pressure she was put under by her parents – particularly Marilyn was really sickening; I really felt disgusted at times.

That being said though, this book does end on a positive note.
The element of redemption and renew/ rebirth is definitely there.

This is absolutely a fantastic, gripping read.
If you are in any way interested in this book, there’s no reason/excuse to put off reading it.

I fell in love with her writing and this story. I’m thinking of getting her second novel ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ already!

The Comforters by Muriel Spark

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Caroline Rose is plagued by the tapping of typewriter keys and the strange, detached narration of her every thought and action. Caroline has an unusual problem – she realises she is in a novel. Her fellow characters also seem deluded: Laurence, her former lover, finds diamonds in a loaf of bread – has his elderly grandmother hidden them there? And Baron Stock, her bookseller friend, believes he is on the trail of England’s leading Satanist.


I got this book with my interest sparked by one of my favorites BookTuber, Mementomori Video.
This is my first Muriel Spark and I was kind of curious to see what kind of writing style she has and what this book is about. Most importantly, if I would like this book or not.

To be honest, I still haven’t been able to figure out what exactly was going on in this book.

Let me put it this way – this is a peculiar, yet riveting read. 

Content-wise, I’m still not 100% sure what this book is about. I find it incredibly difficult to even summarize the story. There are way too many things going on and it felt all the plots and bits jumbling up and jumping all over the place, it felt a messy, chaotic read. You may find you’re not sure in what direction the story is going – I felt the same way, too.
However, what I find surprising is that they are all interconnected in a very intricate, meticulous way.  Every single piece of a puzzle thrown out in the story does fall into place beautifully later in the story, but overall, it kind of exudes a mayhem-like vibe.
The more I think about it, the less it feels like a story with one solid plot,too. It feels more like a collage of the characters’ lives, where each character’s thoughts and actions are narrated in ‘Caroline did this,’ ‘Laurence felt this,’ kind of manner.
Weird as it may sound, but that’s how I felt about this story.

My overall feels toward this book may also stem from the author closing the book with a loose end rather than ending with a closure.
There’s no explicit closure particularly to the relationship between Caroline and Laurence, so I still have a lot of unanswered questions hanging in the air – it’s kind of akin to indigestion.

In spite of that, and surprisingly enough, I enjoyed it a ton.

I remember telling you that I am a plot-driven reader and I need a solid, explicit and easy-to-follow plot. I don’t do well at an abstract writing style.
That being said though, I found myself really enjoy reading this, what some may seem as a plot-less novel. I woke up at 6 a.m. today and kept reading the rest of the book almost non-stop. I literally buzzed through the book, it was such a ride.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous and somewhat hypnotic; the paragraphs that describe the detached narrations of Caroline’s thoughts and actions preceded by the tapping sound of a typewriter are just stunning, outstandingly fascinating.
As a reader, you’ll read EXACTLY THE SAME SENTENCE OR PARAGRAPH WHAT YOU’VE JUST READ preceded by the tapping sound of a typewriter and it also comes with THE CHANTING.

Like this:

      She was absorbed by the pressing need to get out of her flat at the earliest possible moment, and as she searched among her clothes she did not even notice, with her customary habit of self-observation, that she had thrown her night-things together anyhow. This frenzied packing operation and the deliberate care she had taken, in spite of her rage, to fold and fit her possessions into place at St Philumena’s less than a day ago failed to register.
      Tap-tick-tap. she did not even notice, with her customary habit of self-observation, that she had thrown her night-things together anyhow. This frenzied packing operation and the deliberate care she had taken, in spite of her rage, to fold and fit her possessions into place at St Philumena’s less than a day ago failed to register. Tap.

Such descriptions literally made my skin crawl; I could felt the full-on creepiness crawl into my head just by reading such sentences.  Man, was it glorious!

The characters are all interesting, too. They are all in a way wrecked and delusional, but l really enjoyed Laurence’s  super-observant nature and the Baron’s phony, superficial  geniality. And don’t forget the sprightly Louisa Jepp – a 76 year-old Laurence’s grandmother who is allegedly involved in diamond smuggling;  an old lady smuggling a diamond??? Come on, what a plot!
It felt that the author looked at all the characters through sarcastic and cynical glasses and drawn them with a healthy dose of humor and a slight waft of sarcasm.
They are all well-fleshed out and I had so much fun to read about them.

I also enjoyed reading the emotional estrangement between Laurence and Caroline.
Since Caroline started hearing the tapping of typewriter in her head, Caroline tries to outwit the invisible phantom by doing the opposite of what the narrator told her, and Laurence starts to feel Caroline drifts apart from him.
Such detailed characterizations and the well-crafted character dynamics are what I found make this book peculiar at a glance yet captivating and riveting.

The bottom line is, as I previously mentioned, I still don’t know whether I got this story right; I think there are still a lot to take in. I definitely need to come back to better grasp the story line.
None the less, I really enjoyed this book. This book definitely won’t be my last Muriel Spark. I’d love to try some more of her books.